RicelandMeadows


Chicken Tractor
July 18, 2012, 7:47 am
Filed under: July 2012

Our chicken tractor made from scraps

                                                      July 18, 2012

 

     The other day, when we thought it was going to rain, we worked inside,  building this movable pen for chickens. This style of pen is called a chicken tractor. I am not sure where the name came from, but they sure do work!

     This pen allows for rasing chickens outside, on pasture, without the pressure from predators. The chickens are very safe even when they are small. They have access to feed and water always and get the benefit of fresh grass every day too.

     The pen measures 8 feet by 8 feet. I had some left over pieces of 10 foot steel siding that I used for the roof. The extra that sticks over the sides, will just offer a bit more protection from the sun and weather.

     The pen gets moved every day. It is just slid forward 8 feet. This gives the chickens a new place for scratching and eating. It also keeps them nice and clean. There is no build up of manure because of the constant moving. The soil and grass left behind gets the benefit of the chicken droppings.

     The cage has a 2 foot by 8 foot door on top, on hinges. This opening allows for easy entry to keep the feeder full and the water fresh. It also allows for catching the chickens at butchering time. I use a wire hook attached to a broomstick to catch the fryers by the feet.

     A small child or much more agile adult than me, could probably crawl under and grab the chickens, but for me, I use the hook. It is simple and the chickens don’t take offense to it.

     The coop is 28 inches high. I chose 28 inches because that was the length of my shortest leftover pieces of wood. This whole project was made from scraps and leftovers, from other projects around the farm. The poultry netting was 36 inches, so we trimmed it down after it was stapled up.

     The hook and eye closer and the hinges were also mixed in with some of my treasure. The duct tape on the end of the door, just keeps the netting from ripping my shift … I hope 😮

     I put two wheels that came from my father-in-law’s stash of stuff, on one end. I am thinking that it will pull easier, thanks to the wheels. I raised the tractor up about an inch in the back so the wheels would carry that portion of the pen.

     The nylon strap in front is just what I use to pull it along the ground. It too, was a left over. Some guy thought you could use it to tie stuff down with in your truck… Doesn’t work too well for that but will work out okay for a soft handle. The nylon construction won’t rot, is easy on the hands and keeps one more piece of trash out of the landfill.

     The chicks go into the tractor at about 2 weeks of age. I wait until they are feathered out. They will be raised in this pen for another 4 weeks. Then the Cornish cross chicks are ready to butcher.

     I can put them in the lower end of the pumpkin strip field. I will move them 8 feet each day when they are small, then twice a day as they grow bigger. By the time the 4 weeks are up, I will have moved the pen up closer to the barn.

     We will make one strip up the field, eight feet wide, by the time the chickens are ready to butcher. The strip will be well fertilized. The chickens have been safe from raccoons and other predators. The chicken tractor will get sprayed down with a bleach and water mixture and left to dry in the sun. It will be ready for chicks as soon as the next batch gets their feathers.

     Here is a way to grow your own food in the city. The chicken tractor can be pulled around the lawn. In one month from the time the chickens go in, your lawn will get the benefit of grooming and fertilization without chemicals. The chickens stay confined yet content in the roomy pen.

     I only grow 25 chicks at a time in this sized pen. This way, even fully grown birds have plenty of room. Also, I find that by the time I am done butchering 25 chickens, I have had enough for the day. It is an easy job, done in just a few hours, but still not one of my favorites. The finished product however, I really enjoy… fried, broiled or barbecued!

 


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